Category Archives: author blog
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein
Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks, to the abundance that is already present. In addition, behavioral and psychological research has shown the surprising life improvements that can stem from the practice of gratitude. Giving thanks makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress.
It Heightens Your Quality of Life
A practice of gratitude raises your “happiness set-point” so you can remain at a higher level of happiness regardless of outside circumstances. Research shows that those who practice gratitude tend to be more creative, bounce back more quickly from adversity, have a stronger immune system, and have stronger social relationships than those who don’t practice gratitude. To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.
Notice and Appreciate Each Day’s Gifts
We tend to take for granted the good things in our lives. Imagine losing some of the things that you take for granted, such as your home, your ability to see or hear, your ability to walk, or anything that currently gives you comfort. Then imagine getting each of these things back, one by one, and consider how grateful you would be for each and every one. Start finding joy in the small things instead of the bigger things, like getting the promotion, having a comfortable savings, getting married, or having children, and so on – before allowing yourself to feel gratitude and joy. In the face of hard times ask yourself: “What’s good about this?”, “What can I learn from this?”, and “How can I benefit from this?”
Incorporate Gratitude into your life every day
If we increase our conscious awareness of gratitude it may require that we train ourselves to think differently. This can be done by incorporating some simple exercises into our lives. For example, you might begin to keep a gratitude journal. Gratitude journals can take many forms, but one way of doing this is to simply write down one thing that you are grateful for each day.It can be something that happened that day, something you felt, or someone in your life who has made a positive impact on you.
You can also speak your expressions of gratitude. You can engage someone in a daily discussion about what you are grateful for. This might take the form of questions like, “What was the best part of your day today?”, or “What is one thing that made you feel really happy today?” This kind of discussion not only helps to increase your own awareness of all that you have to be grateful for, but can also promote positive connection and experiences in your relationship with whomever you choose to have these exchanges. Focus on the positive things, which in turn help the stressors feel less significant, and help you feel happier. Basically, gratitude promotes gratitude.
You can train yourself to notice things that you are thankful for. They can be small things: maybe you notice that your bed is very comfortable, that your lunch is tasty, that a good friend said something nice to you, etc. It is easy to take these kinds of experiences for granted and not direct our conscious awareness to them. But training yourself to notice these kinds of things and really feel grateful for them can help increase your own experience of happiness.
Be Thankful –
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.
It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.
GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.
Writing fiction can be complex and multifaceted. There are countless details to consider throughout the process. There’s the initial brainstorming, the outlining, the countless hours of research, the actual writing, and the inevitable revising. As if that wasn’t enough, you still have the editing process, a monumental task of its own. All this to create what you hope will be an amazing work of fiction that readers will fall in love with. Not much to ask, right?
In doing this research, I’ve gathered an immeasurable amount of ideas concerning fiction writing. These writing tips, from countless sources, might be helpful to other writers tackling a novel by offering different viewpoints and by providing food for the creative process.
Hopefully, the tips below will help make writing that novel a little easier.
- Read more fiction than you write.
- Don’t lock yourself into one genre (in reading or writing). Even if you have a favorite genre, step outside of it occasionally.
- Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.
- Dissect and analyze stories you love from books, movies, and television to find out what works in storytelling and what doesn’t.
- Don’t write for the market. Tell the story that’s in your heart. You can make an outline before, during, or after you finish your rough draft. It will provide you with a road map, which is a powerful tool to have at your disposal.
- Some of the best fiction comes from real life. Jot down stories that interest you whether you hear them from a friend or read them in a news article.
- Real life is also a great source of inspiration for characters. Look around at your friends, family, and coworkers. Magnify and mix the strongest aspects of their personalities, and you’re on your way to crafting a cast of believable characters.
- Make your characters real through details rather than lengthy head-to-toe physical descriptions.
- The most realistic and relatable characters are flawed. Find something good about your villain and something dark in your hero’s past.
- Avoid telling readers too much about the characters. Instead, show the characters’ personalities through their actions and interactions.
- Give your characters difficult obstacles to overcome. Make them suffer. That way, when they triumph, it will be even more rewarding.
- Cultivate a distinct voice. Your narrator should not sound warm and friendly in the first few chapters and then objective and aloof in later chapters. The voice should be consistent, and its tone should complement the content of your book.
- Give careful consideration to the narrative point of view. Is the story best told in first person or third person? If you’re not sure, write a few pages in each narrative point of view to see what works best.
- Is your story moving too fast for readers or are they yawning through every paragraph? Are the love scenes too short? Are the fight scenes too long? Do you go into three pages of detail as your characters walk from point A to point B and then fly through an action sequence in a couple of short paragraphs? Pay attention to pacing!
- Infuse your story with rich themes to give it a humanistic quality. Examples of themes include sacrifice, redemption, rebirth, life and death, faith, destiny, etc. These are the big shadows that hover over your story.
- Make sure you understand that every story needs a beginning, middle, and an end.
- Use symbols and imagery to create continuity throughout your story. Think about how the White Rabbit kept popping up when Alice was adventuring through Wonderland or how the color red was used in the film American Beauty. These are subtle details that give your story great power.
- Every great story includes transformation. The characters change, the world changes, and hopefully, the reader will change too.
- Enrich your main plot with subplots. In real life, there’s a lot happening at once.
- There is a difference between a sub-plot and a tangent. Don’t go off on too many tangents.
- If you write in a genre, don’t be afraid to blur the lines. A horror story can have funny moments and a thriller can have a bit of romance.
- Make sure your setting is vivid and realistic even if you made it up.
- If you didn’t make up your setting, then do your best to get to the location and see it for yourself before you finish your manuscript. If that’s not possible, get busy researching.
- Give the readers room to think. You don’t have to tell your story in minute detail, including each minute of the plot’s timeline or all of the characters’ thoughts. Provide enough dots, and trust that the reader will be able to connect them when your story makes time jumps.
- Let the readers use their imaginations with your story’s descriptions as well. Provide a few choice details and let the readers fill in the rest of the canvas with their own colors.
- Don’t focus exclusively on storytelling at the expense of compelling language.
- Appeal to readers’ senses. Use descriptive words that engage the readers’ senses of taste, touch, sound, sight, and smell.
- Apply poetry techniques to breathe life into your prose. Use alliteration, onomatopoeia, metaphor, and other literary devices to make your sentences sing and dance.
- When rewriting, check for the following: plot holes, character inconsistencies, missing scenes, extraneous scenes, accuracy in research, and of course, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
- As you revise, ask yourself whether every paragraph, sentence, and word is essential to your story. If it’s not, you know where the delete button is.
- Before your final revisions and before you send your manuscript out to any agents or editors, find your beta readers: join a writing group, take a fiction workshop, or hire a pro.
- Do not send out your rough draft. Go through the revision process at least three times before handing it out to your beta readers. The stronger it is when you bring in editors, the stronger those editors will be able to make it.
- Have fun. If you’re not enjoying writing, then maybe it’s not for you. If you’re not enjoying fiction writing, try something else, like poetry, blogging, or screenwriting. Be willing to experiment and you’ll find your way.
Were these writing tips helpful? Got any tips to add? Leave a comment!
Check on the website for my “Dragomeir Series” (for dragon lovers) and various other genres,
And updates on my latest series – “Daughter of the Dark Lord.” Interesting EXTRAS available too!
Excerpt from DAUGHTER OF THE DARK LORD – Part One – THE BURNING SKY:
(Cheron – the true specter of death, Ferryman at The River Styx – speaking to Katherine Pendragon, the daughter of the Dark Lord of the Provinces of Hell)
“Your father and his loyal demons cannot cross flowing water, and I speak not of the river of death. Only through me may you cross the Styx. These lands are not your prison and there are no conventions which bind your fate, but without an army, your father’s curse will be the end of us all.”
Cheron reached into his robe and pulled out an amulet attached to a golden chain. Gazing at it for a moment, Cheron’s energy spiked, almost unnoticeably, and then passed. He handed the piece to Katherine hesitantly, as if he was about to lose something meaningful to him.
“The most precious gift I can give you is this. The Eternal Amulet of Ele-Amarna. It will give you control over Bahn Fahr and the Army of the Dead. “
The Amulet of Ele-Amarna was an ancient vial, one and one half inches in length, attached to a solid gold chain, which was eighteen inches in length. The six gold rings surrounding it, would spin in the manner of a combination lock until they lined up, allowing it to open. Katherine had no knowledge of what would happen once it opened, but she did know that her energy combined with that of the amulet would call up the Army of the Dead, and their subsequent leader, General Bahn Fahr. The General resided with his army in the Province of Sheol. This might be the only way to defeat her father.
But the Amulet came with a warning:
“But beware . . . if the Amulet is destroyed once the Army is called, you will unleash dominion over the living by angry legions of those who cannot be stopped or killed. Be warned, Ariella. Hold the Amulet and call the Name of Bahn Fahr at the peril of all you hold dear.”
Does Katherine resort to using the Amulet, or does she find another way to to thwart the plans of her malevolent father, the Dark Lord, and his army of demons? The answers can be found in
at my website www.solitaireparke.com, where it can be purchased at numerous locations in a variety of formats.
I look forward to hearing from my readers. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.
Tags: Amulet of Ele-Amarna, Ariella, Army of the Dead, Bahn Fahr, Cheron, Dark Lord, Daughter of the Dark Lord - part one - The Burning Sky, dragon books, dragons, excerpt, fantasy, fiction, Katherine Pendragon, Province of Sheol, River Styx, solitaire parke, urban fantasy
An animal that is similar to what we know as a bison or buffalo; they roamed on the Provinces of Hell and were the main food source for dragons, and also on the menu for the citizens. They were bulky oversized animals, not terribly intelligent and often cranky, but extremely useful. Large fields were cultivated outside the Palace, and as the bubalos were procured, pens were built for the massive number of creatures. They migrated twice a year from the more barren lands of the Provinces to the northwestern edge of Hell proper, where they fed on the grasslands produced during that time of year. The Dark Lord’s daughter, Katherine, even had bubalos brought in to feed the Hell hounds living within the city. Being such large creatures, they were often bridled and used for transporting supplies from place to place when needed. The hide from a bubalos could be tanned and used for various articles of clothing or types of baggage.
Read more about life on the Provinces in the following book –
A prequel book to the Dragomeir Series
Find this book and many more at
Dragons are magical, mythical winged creatures that we find both thrilling and frightening. Both adults and younger readers seem to find them equally fantastic. We’d like to believe that they might have once existed, and they are legendary in almost every culture on the planet, so why not?
They have traditionally been viewed as perilous, dangerous creatures with magical qualities that laid waste to the countryside and carried off damsels in distress, thereby having to be sought after and conquered. Some authors have written about them with this view in mind – Tolkien, Ursula K. LeGuin, and J. K. Rowling, to name a few. The fantasy writer, Anne McCaffrey, explored human kinship with dragons, man and animal befriending one another. Countless children’s books have now brought these fantastic creatures into the next generation to be both feared and loved.
I have continued with Anne McCaffrey’s affinity of dragon and man in my Dragomeir Series books, and now in the new prequel series, Daughter of the Dark Lord – Part One – The Burning Sky, and the forthcoming Daughter of the Dark Lord – Part Two – The Alberra Project. (There will definitely be a Part Three!)
Dragons introduce a much needed magic and adrenaline into our lives – the appeal of being unpredictable and potentially dangerous that emulates our challenges, frustrations and achievements in an exhilarating and exceptional way. Dragons never play by anyone’s rules.
Nowadays, dragons are our constant companions in novels, movies and computer games. They are the most familiar and respected creatures from fantasy and legend. They can give us an emotional reaction of faithful friendship, as well as the opportunity to fly. Dragons allow us to feel indestructible and open up our imaginations. They give us wings.
What are your favorite dragons?
- How often do you use the word “very” in your writing? It is often extremely overused and can make your sentences sound weak. So check out this site. It gives you 128 ways to avoid using this word by replacing it with stronger more vibrant ones.
- Need some help with your grammar? Take the following quiz and find out how much you know.
- Book titles, blog headings, or other articles are sometimes difficult to come by. You might need a little help occasionally. Here are 7 tools to provide that help.
- Do you love the television show “Game of Thrones” or the books? Here are 5 lessons to be learned from them.
- Do you know how to research a novel, and when to stop? This article could be helpful.
- Tips for finding those eye-catching images for your books, articles, or blogs.
Which ones are your favorites?
If these were helpful to you, please pass them on!
Visit me at my website – firstname.lastname@example.org
DAUGHTER OF THE DARK LORD – Part One – THE BURNING SKY
The first Prequel Book to the Dragomeir Series
(A saga of dragons, demons, fierce creatures and dragon riders)
BEFORE IT ALL BEGAN . . .
A daughter born to the cruel tyrant of the Provinces, the Dark Lord
An incredible child of great skill and abilities
A long awaited prophecy yet to be fulfilled
A remarkable and enduring gift – a Dragon egg
Friends, allies and enemies embroiled in conflict for their lives amidst schemes and unruly allegiances
Who is this child and how does her life impact the future?
– THE PREQUEL
AND THE ENTIRE DRAGOMEIR SERIES
IS AVAILABLE NOW in multiple formats at the following sites –
Enjoy the sci-fi/urban fantasy world of Dragomeir!
Any questions about the books? Leave me a comment.
It’s hard to believe we’re at the close of November, heading into December – The Christmas Season. Where does the time go? Way too fast, that’s for sure. I was thinking about the pros and cons of the holiday season which triggered a subject that we all have to deal with, not only during the month of December, but all year long. That issue we call “Toxic People.” This season seems to bring them out of the woodwork more than any other time of the year. I guess when you take the hassle and stress of everyday life and then add the hustle and bustle of the holidays on top of it; you get very disgruntled and often malevolent people. You’ll find them everywhere – at home, at work, at the shopping mall, driving down the freeway, or at the grocery store.
How do we deal with these exhausted, exasperated, furious, and anxious human beings? Well, I came across an article that was very enlightening. It was written by Dr. Travis Bradberry, who is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional. Intelligence 2.0. Here is some of the information from that article.
Toxic people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way, they create unnecessary complexity, strife, and worst of all stress.
Studies have long shown that stress can have a lasting, negative impact on the brain. Exposure to even a few days of stress compromises the effectiveness of neurons in the hippocampus—an important brain area responsible for reasoning and memory. Weeks of stress cause reversible damage to neuronal dendrites (the small “arms” that brain cells use to communicate with each other), and months of stress can permanently destroy neurons. Stress is a formidable threat to your life success—when stress gets out of control, your brain and your performance suffer.
You need to manage your emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. To deal with toxic people effectively, you need an approach that enables you to control what you can and eliminate what you can’t. The important thing to remember is that you are in control of far more than you realize. These are the things you need to master:
Set Limits (Especially with Complainers)
Complainers and negative people are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. People often feel pressure to listen to complainers because they don’t want to be seen as callous or rude, but there’s a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into their negative emotional spiral. You can avoid this only by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. Think of it this way: if the complainer were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with complainers. A great way to set limits is to ask complainers how they intend to fix the problem. They will either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction.
Don’t Die in the Fight
Victorious people know how important it is to live to fight another day, especially when your foe is a toxic individual. In conflict, unchecked emotion makes you dig your heels in and fight the kind of battle that can leave you severely damaged. When you read and respond to your emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right.
Toxic people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. Make no mistake about it; their behavior truly goes against reason. Which begs the question, why do you allow yourself to respond to them emotionally and get sucked into the mix? The more irrational and off-base someone is, the easier it should be for you to remove yourself from their traps. Quit trying to beat them at their own game. Distance yourself from them emotionally and approach your interactions like they’re a science project (or you’re their shrink, if you prefer the analogy). You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos—only the facts.
Stay Aware of Your Emotions
Maintaining an emotional distance requires awareness. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in situations where you’ll need to regroup and choose the best way forward. This is fine and you shouldn’t be afraid to buy yourself some time to do so. Think of it this way—if a mentally unstable person approaches you on the street and tells you he’s John F. Kennedy, you’re unlikely to set him straight. When you find yourself with someone who is engaged in similarly derailed thinking, sometimes it’s best to just smile and nod. If you’re going to have to straighten them out, it’s better to give yourself some time to plan the best way to go about it.
This is the area where most people tend to sell themselves short. They feel like because they work or live with someone, they have no way to control the chaos. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you’ve found your way to Rise Above a person, you’ll begin to find their behavior more predictable and easier to understand. This will equip you to think rationally about when and where you have to put up with them and when you don’t. For example, even if you work with someone closely on a project team, that doesn’t mean that you need to have the same level of one-on-one interaction with them that you have with other team members. You can establish a boundary, but you’ll have to do so consciously and proactively. If you let things happen naturally, you are bound to find yourself constantly embroiled in difficult conversations. If you set boundaries and decide when and where you’ll engage a difficult person, you can control much of the chaos. The only trick is to stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to encroach upon them, which they will.
Don’t Let Anyone Limit Your Joy
When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from the opinions of other people, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something that they’ve done, they won’t let anyone’s opinions or snide remarks take that away from them. While it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don’t have to compare yourself to others, and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what toxic people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within. Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain—you’re never as good or bad as they say you are.
Don’t Focus on Problems—Only Solutions
Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress. When you focus on actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and reduces stress. When it comes to toxic people, fixating on how crazy and difficult they are gives them power over you. Quit thinking about how troubling your difficult person is, and focus instead on how you’re going to go about handling them. This makes you more effective by putting you in control, and it will reduce the amount of stress you experience when interacting with them.
Emotionally intelligent people are quick to forgive, but that doesn’t mean that they forget. Forgiveness requires letting go of what’s happened so that you can move on. It doesn’t mean you’ll give a wrongdoer another chance. Don’t be willing to be bogged down unnecessarily by others’ mistakes, so let them go quickly and be assertive in protecting yourself from future harm.
Squash Negative Self-Talk
Sometimes you absorb the negativity of other people. There’s nothing wrong with feeling bad about how someone is treating you, but your self-talk (the thoughts you have about your feelings) can either intensify the negativity or help you move past it. Negative self-talk is unrealistic, unnecessary, and self-defeating. It sends you into a downward emotional spiral that is difficult to pull out of. You should avoid negative self-talk at all costs.
Limit Your Caffeine Intake
Drinking caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is the source of the “fight-or-flight” response, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response. This is great when a bear is chasing you, but not so great when you’re surprised by an angry person.
Get Some Sleep
I can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams), so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough—or the right kind—of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. A good night’s sleep makes you more positive, creative, and proactive in your approach to toxic people, giving you the perspective you need to deal effectively with them.
Use Your Support System
It’s tempting, yet entirely ineffective, to attempt tackling everything by yourself. To deal with toxic people, you need to recognize the weaknesses in your approach to them. This means tapping into your support system to gain perspective on a challenging person. Everyone has someone at work and/or at home who is on their team, rooting for them, and ready to help them get the best from a difficult situation. Identify these individuals in your life and make an effort to seek their insight and assistance when you need it. Something as simple as explaining the situation can lead to a new perspective. Most of the time, other people can see a solution that you can’t because they are not as emotionally invested in the situation.
Bring It All Together
Before you get this system to work brilliantly, you will find yourself tested by touchy interactions with problem people. Thankfully, the plasticity of the brain allows it to mold and change as you practice new behaviors, even when you fail. Implementing these healthy, stress-relieving techniques for dealing with difficult people will train your brain to handle stress more effectively and decrease the likelihood of ill effects.
So there you have it. Maybe by using some of these techniques we can keep the stress levels down and make it through the holidays and even our lives!
Have a great day and don’t forget to check out the information and books on my website. Reading is a terrific stress reliever and books make a wonderful gift!
If you have any helpful ideas, please let us all know. We can always use another stress reliever or way to deal with those toxic folks out there.
In the year 1900, L. Frank Baum published the “Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, and then subsequently released thirteen more Oz books over the years until his death in 1919.
For generations his books have been an inspiration to children, and adults who still believe themselves to be children. I am one of those lucky people, and decided to take my Oz oriented adolescence to the next level. I’m not a big proponent of “Fan Fiction” but I love the idea of taking the essence of certain Oz characters and thrusting them into a non-related story.
After having read the entire original series again, I took my favorite characters from Baum’s books and incorporated them into a book from a place called Langwidere. Princess Langwidere appeared in the classic “Ozma of Oz.” In my new book Langwidere the Princess was morphed into a summer camp for children, not a good atmosphere, but one meant for genetic change and mutation. It became the foundation for introducing a group of very gifted children that help define the new world of Oz.
In my forthcoming book “Tinker Smith and the Conspiracy of Oz“ you will find genetically altered children who escape into a dystopian world that is nearly destroyed by its maker, Oscar Zoroaster . . . The Wizard.
The children are comprised of ten genetically altered summer camp attendees, who go on to redefine goodness, hope, and courage. The children’s character and personalities are not the same as in the original books, but they grow as the story continues, showing how moral fiber improves through adversity. The children’s characters that I chose are as follows –
- Tinker Smith (Tinker and Smith)
- Glass Cat
- Button Bright
Here are the additional characters –
- Oscar Zoroaster
- John Does (Soldiers)
- Dorothys (Followers)
- Frank Baum (Farmer)
All other characters in the book are purely fictitious, and have been selected from my own demented mind to interact with the original personalities created by L. Frank Baum.
Each of the children has been imbued with super powers far and beyond human, and yet they find humanity in their adventures. I cast Oscar Zoroaster as the arch villain, simply because I thought it was funny, and to give him the chance to perform an exciting new role in the tales of Oz.
Have you read the “OZ” books? If so, what was your favorite book and/or character?
Hello Readers! The new website is now up and running! So come visit and read the latest news about the Dragomeir Books, as well as the Larger World Series, and much more. You’ll find my Blog, Fun Facts and Extras, and discover what books are forthcoming. See you at the website!
Have any questions or things you’d like to know about? Contact me!